Murdered woman’s family sues husband for wrongful death

DENVER (AP) — The parents of a Colorado woman murdered by her husband are seeking financial damages in a lawsuit filed on the same day he was sentenced to life in prison.

Christopher Watts was sentenced Nov. 19 to three consecutive life sentences for killing his pregnant wife, Shanann, and the couple’s daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. He had previously pleaded guilty to charges of murder, unlawful termination of a pregnancy and tampering with a deceased human body.

Shanann Watts’ parents, Frank and Sandra Rzucek, filed their wrongful death lawsuit the same day, seeking unspecified financial damages for pain and suffering caused by the loss of their daughter and granddaughters, plus funeral and burial expenses.

Frank Rzucek also is suing on his daughter’s behalf for wrongful termination of her pregnancy.

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Prosecutors said Watts strangled his wife and smothered the girls inside the family’s suburban Denver home. He then buried his wife in a shallow grave on an oil and gas work site and dumped the girls’ bodies in oil tanks nearby. He is not eligible for parole.

Police investigating the family’s disappearance quickly became suspicious of Watts and learned of an ongoing affair with a co-worker. He was arrested Aug. 16, three days after a friend first reported Shanann Watts and the girls missing.

The initial complaint says the Rzuceks, who live in North Carolina, plan to seek additional damages as the suit moves forward.

The Coloradoan first reported the lawsuit this week.

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